PRINCETON, N.J. РThe ECHL announced the launch of the 2016 Kelly Cup Tour with the first stop tonight in Missouri. Every team begins the season with the goal of winning the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, presented annually to the postseason champion of the ECHL and won in 2015 by the Allen Americans.

The tour will travel to six ECHL cities, making appearances at games, schools, sponsors, radio and television stations and other community events. The Kelly Cup will travel 3,272 miles during the tour, including 988 miles from Greenville, South Carolina to Manchester, New Hampshire where the tour concludes during the final weekend of the 2015-16 regular season.

“The 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs provided an unprecedented level of excitement with eight of the 15 series going a full seven games, including both Conference Finals and the Kelly Cup Finals,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “This year, we expect nothing less.”

After its stop in Missouri for games on Friday and Saturday, the Kelly Cup Tour will visit Cincinnati on March 17-18, Toledo on March 26, Worcester on April for its Fan Fest on April 3, Greenville on April 8 and Manchester during the week of April 11.

The Kelly Cup Tour offers ECHL fans the opportunity to view the coveted Patrick J. Kelly Cup, which has been awarded to the ECHL postseason champion since 1996-97. The ECHL retired its playoff championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, in 1996 and replaced it with the Kelly Cup, first awarded to the playoff champion in 1997. Standing 28 inches tall and weighing 37 pounds, the Kelly Cup features the names of players, coaches and support staff from each of the 26 ECHL champions. Accompanying the Kelly Cup will be a special display that highlights the intensity and excitement of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The Kelly Cup is named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, who is one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. Kelly served as Commissioner of the ECHL for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title which he continues to hold. Kelly celebrates his 63rd season in hockey in 2015-16, having begun his career with the St. Catherine Teepees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1952. He played professionally for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League from 1965-73 and was head coach and general manager of Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76. He coached the Colorado Rockies in the NHL in 1977-78 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the American Hockey League, he went to Peoria in the International Hockey League where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season in 1984-85.

Scott Burt, Jared Bednar, Louis Mass and Patrick Wellar are the only individuals to have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times. Burt won championships with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 and Alaska in 2011; Bednar won as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and was the head coach of the Stingrays for their win in 2009; Mass won as a player with Alaska in 2006 and as the Aces’ assistant coach in 2011 and 2014 while Wellar won titles with Alaska in 2006, South Carolina in 2009 and Reading in 2013. There are 22 other individuals who have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup twice.

2016 Kelly Cup Tour

March 11-12 Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Independence, Mo.
March 17-18 U.S. Bank Arena Cincinnati, Ohio
March 26 Huntington Center Toledo, Ohio
April 2 DCU Center Worcester, Mass.
April 8 Bon Secours Wellness Arena Greenville, S.C.
Week of April 11 Verizon Wireless Arena Manchester, N.H.

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